May 31, 2006

This One Says It All

Cartoon from Indian Express

Yippee! Its 9.3%!

Yes, the GDP grew in Q4 by 9.3%! Now if the gods are going to bless us with abundant rains this year, then this rate is only going to improve. So buckle up for the exciting ride ahead for the economy. Interest rates could further rise .
BTW, the full-year GDP growth for 2005/06 was 8.4 per cent as compared to 7.5 per cent in the previous fiscal.

From My Heart

Listen to Your Conscience

I am very much disturbed by some of the recent developments in this country of mine. First of all it’s the reservation issue on which I didn’t voice my opinion earlier because I knew it was sheer political opportunism by the UPA govt to win the OBC votes in next year’s UP state elections. Medicos are leading the anti-reservation agitation and because of this, poor patients are suffering for no fault of theirs. I completely support the anti-reservation movement but I think it is high time now Engineering, Law, MBA, etc, students and people from the private sector took the lead. I think Medicos should go back and treat the patients. The Socrates Law by which the Medical fraternity swears thus states:

The Socrates Oath (The Modern Version)

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

Reading this it is very clear that a doctor’s first duty is to attend to the sick. The doctors should find other peaceful means of protest – like wearing black coat, black bandana, etc. At least the medicos should heed the Supreme Court's directions in this matter.

Enough is Enough

Another thing that is bothering me is the developments in Gujarat. All that Aamir Khan asked was to properly rehabilitate the people who will be displaced once the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s height is increased. For this some Gujaratis labelled him anti-Gujarat. Everyone knows the importance of the dam for the states of western India but that doesn’t mean we trample upon a section of our people to provide water to another section of our people.

The Aamir Khan Vs Gujarat spat is now reaching preposterous levels of insanity. As Gujarat cinemas fearing violence by politicians have banned “Fanaa”, some guys who obviously are big Aamir Khan fans decided to go to Mumbai to watch the movie. Now some fellow Gujaratis have labelled them ‘traitors’ and don’t want them back in Gujarat and they also want them expelled from University. The ban however doesn’t stop anyone in Gujarat watching pirated version of “Fanaa” on DVD.

Hatred and intolerance in BJP ruled Gujarat a.k.a laboratory of Hindutva is a grave matter of concern. Sonia Gandhi’s pet project NREGA, (which has been badly trashed by some economists) could become – if initial reports are to be believed – a successful project in giving employment in rural areas. If India’s rural economy can grow by1%, it will translate into a 10,000 crore market for goods and services. Just this week ‘‘Indian Express” has exposed how in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, Hindu villagers have left Muslims out of this project in most areas. There are exceptions in Gujarat where Muslims and Hindus are together in this project.

Recently in Vadodara after a very old dargha, which was declared as an encroachment was demolished, riots broke out and as usual Hindus and Muslims killed each other. How long are the Gujaratis going to live like this? Can’t they forgive each other and live peacefully? Why bring a bad name for rest of us Indians? Why do they link everything to Gujarati “asmita”? What about India’s ‘asmita’? Are they more Indian than rest of us? Where is this madness going to stop? There was a time when Gujaratis were held in great esteem by rest of us Indians for their business acumen and hospitality. Today it is different and it is a sad development.

May 30, 2006

Digging One's Grave?

Kumar Ketkar in an article in Indian Express explains how the present pro-OBC stance of Congress will ultimately harm the party than do any good for them. The article is very informative on caste politics of independent India.

Not many people remember Charan Singh, the man who appointed B.P. Mandal to head a commission in the late ’70s to collect data on the Other Backward Classes (castes), belonged to the Congress Party till the mid-1960s. He left the Congress to form Bharatiya Kranti Dal because he felt the agriculturists did not get justice and a fair deal in the Nehruvian system.

The Jat leader of Uttar Pradesh’s farmers was actually reflecting the aspirations of the “middle peasantry”. Translated in caste terms, it meant that the so-called OBCs (sometimes known as middle castes, and also “forward castes”) were left out and impoverished by the Congress Capitalism. Almost all Lohiaite socialists and some communists at once empathised with Charan Singh. While the capitalists used to criticise Nehru for being socialist, the socialists and comrades would often condemn him for being capitalist.

Charan Singh was not advocating the cause of the agricultural labour, surviving far below the poverty line, nor was he championing the demands of the landlords. He was articulating the political and economic ambitions of the OBCs, who were not part of the Congress System. The Congress System was a rather vague manifestation of aspirations of all classes and castes. Till the mid-sixties that vagueness helped the party to appeal to all sections of the electorate. But two decades after Independence, there were murmurs of resentment in the rural north. The so-called Hindi belt had not gone through social movements and the production relations remained steel-framed by the tight caste structure.

The Congress culture had been able to co-opt the Scheduled Castes and Tribes by offering them affirmative action in the form of reservations. Indian society took these reservations in its stride. There was a feeling of guilt among the upper castes, which actually were at the helm of all the parties of the Left and Right. The conservative opposition to those reservations did not cause protest, like the one we are witnessing today.

The OBCs may have been poor but were not untouchables. Also, a large number of them owned land and cattle. Many OBCs were skilled craftsmen. The OBCs occupied a vast socio-economic space in rural India. They were hostile to the former untouchables. Indeed, caste relations between the OBCs and the BCs were far more vicious and violent than between the upper castes and the dalits. Most dalits were landless labourers and lived at the mercy of the OBC landowner. There were a few upper caste landlords, but by and large the agricultural means of production were controlled and owned by the OBCs.

The upper castes had learnt quite early, almost by intuition, that the future belonged to the knowledge industry. They had begun to invest in education. Therefore the primary contradiction in the rural society was not Brahmins versus the BCs, but the BCs versus the OBCs. Indeed, hardline casteism prevailed more among the OBCs and even the BCs, as they observed the hierarchy very strictly. Whether it was drawing water from the village well, going to temple or marrying a lower of higher caste partner within BC or OBC ranks, it generated hatred, murder or mass violence.

Landlordism was formally abolished in 1951, but it had taken other forms. The restructured landlord and his henchman, the moneylender and their allies in the police and bureaucracy represented the actual ruling class. The well-off OBCs represented that ruling class. This class began to become more and more assertive and aggressive after acquiring larger economic clout in the ’60s. Charan Singh became its spokesperson.

This OBC aggressiveness was predominantly a northern phenomenon. Maharashtra and the southern states had their versions of middle-caste political movements but the violence and viciousness was not so intense there.

The Congress political culture received its first jolt in the ’67 elections, as it lost power in the entire north. The newly formed Samyukta Vidhayak Dals were nothing more than the casteist OBC fronts. Indira Gandhi had come to power just about a year ago. It was a blow to her and the rivals within the party decided to challenge her leadership. The party was split in 1969 and she had to once again take a kind of ‘hold all’ approach to appeal to all sections of people. The slogan “garibi hatao” reflected the old Congress style. The OBC fronts and their Left allies could not hold on to power, as they could not mobilise allies. Also, the OBC base was not large enough.

Their opportunity came in 1977, when the Janata Party came to power. The so-called JP movement had actually mobilised this class and given it political legitimacy. To consolidate the political gains after coming to power, the Charan Singh faction confronted Prime Minister Morarji Desai and the compromise was the Mandal Commission.

But the collapse of the Janata Dal government and Indira Gandhi’s return stalled the OBC advance. She knew the OBC rebellion was aimed at destroying the Congress culture. She shelved the Mandal report, submitted to her government in 1980. But the OBC mobilisation continued and was challenging the Congress in every village in the north. But for Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 and remobilisation of Indians transcending caste and religion, the Congress would not have come to power with such stunning majority under Rajiv Gandhi.

Rajiv was politically naive and did not initially understand the craftiness of his deputy, V.P. Singh. It was not merely Bofors and Ayodhya that defeated the Rajiv Congress. It was defeated by the OBC armies. How many people recall today that Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav gained clout after 1989? Both are products of the JP movement.

V.P. Singh was going to complete the cycle started by Charan Singh. When he announced unilaterally the implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, he was consciously destroying the mass base of the Congress. He knew that the Congress could be kept out of power by appealing to this new OBC power and destroying the delicate balance that the party had been able to maintain. He may have lost power, but he ruined the rainbow coalition that the Congress had represented from the days of the freedom movement. Ironically, Arjun Singh used to hate V.P. Singh then, not for political but for personal reasons. But today the same Arjun has picked up the same bows that VP had collected to attack the Congress.

If the Congress System succumbs and surrenders to the Mandal conspiracy today, it will have committed political suicide. It seems that the party leadership is paralysed and does not know how to deal with this Mandal bolt. Arjun Singh knows what he is doing just as his predecessors, V.P. Singh and Charan Singh, knew what they were doing. All these Singhs have only one aim: to wipe out forever the Congress Coalition, which represented the whole of India. If the Congress Coalition is weakened or wiped out, the day would not be too far when the Indian state too would wither away, like the Soviet state did.

I just don’t agree with Mr.Ketkar when he says that without the Congress the Indian state would wither away. He is underestimating us Indians and the power of political parties like BSP. Already BSP is very confident of coming to power in the center in 10-15 years time. The Brahmins must have realized this already and perhaps that explain why in UP they are joining BSP in large numbers. I am still to figure out what Arjun Singh will get by wiping out the Congress party from India.

May 29, 2006

Press Versus Bloggers

Finally, the mainstream press worldwide is feeling the heat from the blogger community. So much so that they are discussing how to beat the bloggers and citizen journalists to the story in the International Press Institute's World Congress in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh!
Now this shouldn't surprise the blogger community at all. After all didn't the best coverage of the London bombing, South Asia Tsunami, etc was by the bloggers. Recently Nitin's success in getting Harper Collins to correct the error committed by Clinton in his foreword to Madeline Albright's book is worth being noted. IMO this is the biggest success for an Indian blogger till date.
Rajdeep Sardesai's CNN-IBN is very keen on partnership between citizens and the mainstream media. Their Citizen Journalist initiative is a commendable one in this regard. They encourage citizens to contact them with "breaking news" from their respective areas and after verifying its authenticity, it will go on air.
More Power to Bloggers!

May 23, 2006

‘‘India is not a democratic country’’

‘‘India is not a democratic country’’. ‘‘The biggest PR mythof all times is that India is a democracy. In reality, it is not,’’

The loony lady is at it again. Once again in a foreign land as usual she attacks her “motherland”. This time she has crossed all acceptable limits. Midway from a book reading session in NY, she thus pontificated. Then this educated twit said:

She was confused, as India was passing through a terrible time.

“Terrible time”?! So a country growing at 8% is having a terrible time. I have some minor renovation work to be done at home and its been three weeks and I am yet to find a mason who can spare some time.

‘‘There is no real democracy in India. Several states in India are on the vergeof c ivil war,’’ she said.Challenging the much-acclaimed views of columnistThomson Friedman praising India, a democracy of a billion population, forconducting peaceful elections year after year, she said, ‘‘He probably needs anew tour of India... Does Thomas know that in Kashmir Valley alone, some 80,000people have been killed? In Iraq, there are 1,50,000 military personnel, whereasin Kashmir Valley there are some 7,00,000.’’

When she talked about civil war I thought she was referring to the polarisation of the country due to the reservation issue. The ignoramus that I am should have known better. For that terrorist sympathiser what is troubling is those ‘poor’ Kashmiris getting killed in JK and the seven-lakh strong Indian army’s presence in JK. Now this is not the first time she has made such remarks. Why does she hide the fact that the 80,000 (the figure is pretty old now… Roy, next time do add some more zeros for greater effect) killed in Kashmir include civilians, terrorists and army men? And that the majority of the civilians were Muslims and were killed by Paki trained Islamic terrorists. If she loves those Kashmiris so much why restrict her love only to the ones on this part of LoC? Why no concern for the people of Gilgit, Baltistan and ‘Azad Kashmir’ who are treated by Pakistani Punjabis as their “subjects”.

The Naxals kill with impunity poor people from Andhra to Nepal who are pretty similar to the ones she was recently supporting in New Delhi and not a single condemnation has been there from her till today.

Yes, we do hold peaceful elections year after year and one round of state elections just concluded with her favourite party winning in two states.

Now, that according to this nutcase we are not a democracy, the moment she lands here, she should be arrested for anti-India activities. No, better still, let us do a Musharraf on her – declare Arundhati Roy a persona non grata. After that she must be very welcome in Pakistan to live the rest of her life there.

Related Link: Sandeep recommends Ms.Roy Saudi Arabia, China, etc apart from Pakistan.

May 22, 2006

Why Attack Friends?


That is the picture of one of the terrorists who attacked the Congress Rally in Srinagar on Sunday. But what baffles me is that why do the terrorists kill their friends when they are helping them in all possible ways.

May 19, 2006

Tribal Shining

A fast changing India doesn't leave anyone behind - the tribals including!

Cinema theatres or dish antennas to TV sets are no more entertainment to tribals in East Godavari agency area. Modern trends and life styles have already entered the huts of tribals even in interior forest areas like Maredumilli, Addateegala and Rampachodavaram. Recent introduction of Direct-to-Home dishes by Dooradarshan started gaining popularity in these Maoist-affected areas as laying of cables by private cable operators is not only costly, but also difficult in forest.
"Paying Rs.200 to Rs.250 per month is so expensive. So, three to four families who are mostly relatives bought DTH dishes from Rajahmundry and getting more than 40 channels through it," said Kunjam Pentannadora of Chinabarangi village of Rampachodavaram mandal.
During last 15 years some of the tribal houses have got portable black and white TVs in villages like I. Polavaram, Musurumilli, Seethapalli and Devipatnam areas. "First it was black and white TV in my house and we bought colour TV two years ago.
But, the programmes in Doordarshan or some times one or two Telugu channels with dots started coming with antennas," said Goragapudi Chandrarao, who passed SSC and is running a petty shop in Addateegala mandal headquarters.
When a few of the literates in the agency heard about DTH last year, they bought DTH dishes on monthly instalment basis and started enjoying almost all the Telugu, Hindi and other TV channels. "We are relaxing after we got DTH system this January. We are following Telugu TV serials regularly," said Kalum Singaramma, who works in Girijana Cooperative Corporation minor forest produce procurement centre on daily wage.
The TV channels also brought changes in tribal youth, who started wearing modern dresses in a few villages near to Rampachodavaram, Gokavaram and Korukonda.[The Hindu]

May 18, 2006

Vote Bank and Foreign Policy

"In calling India's attention to Pakistan's involvement in this outrage, Karzai implicitly invited greater Indian military involvement in Afghanistan. The manner in which India dismissed his invitation made it appear as if New Delhi was disinclined to embroil itself in what it saw as a purely bilateral squabble between Kabul and Islamabad."
"Neither Karzai nor the Northern Alliance will complain too loudly if Indian special forces are deployed to protect Indian interests. Some may argue against the use of force in Afghanistan, contending that this is not India's war. If that is so, it is hard to explain India's massive investment in the reconstruction."

Nitin is right as always. But the question is why is India not ready to play a military role in Afghanistan when we are increasing our investments in that country? The answer perhaps lies in our domestic politics. The present UPA govt, which wears its secular credentials on its sleeve, was stunned by the huge violent protests the Indian Muslims had staged against Bush visit and the Prophet Mohammad cartoon controversy. In Assam, Muslims who till the other day were with the Congress formed their own party, Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) that cost the Congress some seats in the recent elections. Their success has now inspired the UP Muslims to launch their own political party, the Peoples' Democratic Front (PDF), to contest the UP Assembly polls next year. Till now in UP the SP, BSP and the Congress fought for the 23% of the Muslim vote pie. Now there is a new entrant and all that the Congress has meticulously planned to woo the Muslims to its side will come to knots if Congress-led UPA deployed our special forces in Afghanistan.
Another matter is that even though we see our armed forces as a secular force, it is not necessary that others see the forces of a mostly Hindu nation as secular. And it doesn't take much effort to motivate a battle-hardened people for a jihad against the 'infidels'.

May 17, 2006

Faith Interrupted

The movie on Dan Brown's best selling novel, "Da Vinci Code" is to be released this week and Christians worldwide are against its release. In the movie, Jesus Christ is portrayed as a human who married Mary Magdalene and had a child, and that a powerful organization linked to the Church conspired to commit murder to keep it secret. Now this would clearly hurt their sentiments in the same way Hindus, Muslims,etc are hurt when their religion is denigrated.

In India, the land of "secularism and free speech", we have found a very easy way of nipping every trouble in its bud - ban the 'offender'. Nitin writes that the UPA govt would make India a laughing stock in the eyes of the world if the movie is banned. I think we became one long back when the "Satanic Verses" was banned to please the Muslims. According to Nitin it is not a matter of faith at all. He is of the opinion that the "Catholic Secular Forum" might be seeking political weight. What type of political weight are they seeking!? Just how many Lok Sabha seats are decided by Christians in India? I think we can count them on our fingers. IMO the present govt which prides itself on being "secular" might have emboldened this minority religion to clamour for a ban of the movie.

IMO if one has unflinching faith in one's religion no heresies should undermine one's faith. It is only the weak in faith who are worried about books, movies,etc that show their faith in bad light. Afterall if one doesn't have unflinching faith in one's religion, what is the purpose of being religious?

May 14, 2006

Pakistan Ordered Suryanarayana's Killing?

A Taliban Commander told Tolo TV, Afghanistan's private television channel that Suryanarayana's Killing was ordered by Pakistan's ISI. Pakistan never liked our presence in Afghanistan and the Pakistani hand was always suspected in the killings of Indians in Afghanistan. India should immediately ask for an explanation from Pakistan on this. I am sure Pakistanis will deny any hand. Enough of this peace process for now. But just to keep the Americans happy, India should go slow on the peace process.
A Taliban commander wishing to remain
anonymous previously told Tolu that Amir Khan Haqqani, whom he identified as the
military commander of Taliban fighters in Zabul Province, opposed killing K.
Suryanarayan, who was abducted by the Taliban in Zabul on April 28 (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," May 2, 2006). The source alleged that Suryanarayan was eventually
killed by Mullah Latif, a militiaman under the command of Mawlawi Mohammad Alam
Andar, on orders from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). "One thing I
would like to mention is that an Afghan national cannot commit such a crime,"
Ludin told Tolu.[]
Related report on CNN-IBN

May 13, 2006

India is Asia's Innovation Center

The Wall Street Journal had this interesting article on India fast becoming the innovation center of Asia. According to it due to our stringent IPR laws which is one of the toughest in the world, more and more Cos are establishing their R&D facilities in India.

India is rapidly evolving into Asia's innovation center, leaving China in the
dust. Its secret weapon? Intellectual property-rights protection. In recent
years, New Delhi has taken big steps to protect these rights, and the results
have been dramatic. It may appear as if India's recent economic rise is solely
due to its low-cost outsourcing opportunities for foreign businesses. But this
is only part of the story.Thanks to international treaties such as the Agreement
on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) of the World Trade
Organization, Indian IP laws were significantly revamped starting in the
mid-1990s. In 1994, the Indian Copyright Act was amended to clearly explain the
rights of a copyright holder and the penalties for infringement of copyrighted
software. The law has been called one of the "toughest in the world."These
changes, which significantly ramped up enforcement provisions, will undoubtedly
prove the most important for copyright protection on the subcontinent -- far
ahead of other countries in Asia. The Indian courts have risen to the challenge.
They have taken a broad approach to the applying new laws -- especially to
protect intellectual property in emerging fields such as information
technology.This trend continued last year when India put in place a new patent
law that brought it further into line with international norms. For example,
this law included new provisions that extended patent protection to computer
software and pharmaceutical products. The changes provided new and powerful
incentives for investment, both foreign and domestic, in the creation of new
products in those fields. New Delhi has also improved the operation of its
Patent Office, which handles patent applications. Today, a patent can be granted
in less than three years, as opposed to only a few years ago, where it took up
to an average of five to seven years.As a result, copyright-based industries
such as the Indian IT sector have enjoyed rapid growth. The annual average rate
of growth of Indian software exports from 1994 to 2002 was 48%, marking a
drastic surge from the preceding five years, when the average annual growth was
about 35%. If New Delhi keeps up its commitment to rights protection, the
numbers will continue to grow. Within the next few years, annual revenues from
Indian software exports are expected to reach $50 billion.Furthermore, Indian
entrepreneurs, business and government labs are filing for patents at rapidly
increasing rates. The number of Indian patent applications filed has increased
400% over the past 15 years. Nearly 800 Indian companies submitted international
patent applications to the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2004.
This number may be fairly small by international standards, but is still more
than double the number of Indian patents applied for in 2000. Now, even the
local pharmaceutical companies, traditionally manufacturers of generic versions
of brand-name drugs, are embracing innovation-based business models and seeking
patent protection for their inventions.New Delhi's actions are a stark contrast
to those of others nations like China and Brazil. When it comes to reigning in
the rampant piracy of music, movies and software, these governments are lagging
behind India. But to truly reach their potential for creativity and innovation,
other emerging economic powers could take a few pointers from New Delhi. As
recent history has shown, IPR protection is the secret to success.[]

Related Link

Where Whore Whores Legally

Prostitution is legally banned in India but in India's only Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was lawful all this time. After the uproar of the JK population against the sex racket that was detected recently, the JK govt is considering repealing the law that made prostitution legal in JK from 1921!

Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country where prostitution is legal.
According to the Public Prostitutes Registration Rules, 1921, a prostitute can
carry on her trade legally if she registers herself with the District
Magistrate. She has to fill in a simple application form, file it in person and
pay Rs 5 as fee.
Law Minister Muzzaffer Hussain Beigh, who is also
the Deputy Chief Minister of J-K, admitted the rules were still in force and
could be invoked. ‘‘Yes, the rules are in the book and are as such valid,’’
Beigh said. He, however, said the Government would repeal them in the next
Assembly session.
Sanctioned by the Darbar of the then Maharja
Hari Singh vide Chief Minister letter No 17197, dated February 12, 1921, these
rules were first published in Government Gazette of the same year.
The rules
define a public prostitute as ‘‘a woman who earns her livelihood by offering her
person to lewdness for hire.’’ The rules also allow for the role of a brothel
keeper and defines him or her as ‘‘the occupier of any house, room, tent, boat,
or place resorted to by person of both sexes for the purpose of committing
sexual immorality.’’ However, the brothel keeper has to ensure that he does not
keep the prostitutes who are not registered with the Government.[Indian Express]